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50 Years Ago Today: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Speech For The Ages

I have one eye open and one eye closed as I type out these few words on my keyboard before bedtime. But I'd be remiss if I didn't use this platform to call attention to one of the greatest speeches given in recorded human history:

He was 34 years old when he gave this speech. What will you or what did you do at the age of 34?

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Mondays With Michelle (Tuesday Edition): Suitable Sides

Hello foodie friends!

Do you ever stare into your refrigerator and wonder,
“What in the world am I going to make with the _____ tonight?” 
Doesn't matter if the protein is chicken, fish, beef or pork I am always looking for new side dishes to spice up our weekly meals. There are so many different fruits and veggies occupying the produce aisles, trying some new side dishes can change your whole meal. 

Here are a few that I have started adding to our rotation...
Roasted Carrots (Food Network)
Ratatouille (Martha Stewart)

What new and fun side dishes do you have in your dinner rotation? Share your comments below.

Don't forget to visit my Foodie blog for more recipes, food tips and other foodie fun.

Thanks for reading!

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From Shoelessness To College Freshman: My Son

I've been pretty quiet on the blog as of late. Life has truly gotten in the way. But I make no apologies because my life informs this blog. And I've been going through A LOT of life as of late. The beauty of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Google+ is that they allow you to document life events on the fly. If you do it often enough over a short window of time you will see a storyline emerge. To tell what I've recently been through as one fluid piece with every single detail is to write a novel, or at the very least a novella. What follows is my summarized documentation of one of the most important experiences in my life as a father --- seeing my son off for his freshman year of college:

Friday, August 9

Please forgive the silence but this dad and husband is up to his eyeballs in it: a son heading to college for his freshman year, a daughter who just started going back to school, visits home to check on aging parents, an increasing role at work, landing a speaking engagement, working to be as transparent as possible as a husband, staying in shape, car issues...this should all sound familiar and I don't want a cookie I'm just asking for your patience with the silence on this page and the blog. Stay tuned things will be back to normal soon. THANKS!

Wednesday, August 14

Spending a lot of time reflecting and praying as I hit the road tomorrow with my family to drop my son off to school for his freshman year of college. At first I was excited for the change, but today it hit me like a bag of bricks that as of next week my house is going to be missing one oh so essential person.

Thursday, August 15

Update #1:

And away we go!

Update #2:

Earlier today in the rented minivan before hitting the road for college! Now sitting on Canal Street in New Orleans eating apple pie a la mode and chatting up with the soon to be son/man/friend.

Friday, August 16

Been up since 5:30 am for the son's 8am dorm check-in. Set up the room. Met the roomie. Bought books and souvenirs and headed back later to network. My feet hurt and I've only had one beignet as food for the day. It's time to eat.

Saturday, August 17

Update #1:

Yesterday's move-in day to the freshman dorm went off without a hitch. The welcome committee cheered us on and helped carry the boy's stuff to his room. We met his roommate and his parents, bought books and lots of souvenirs and snacks. We networked with some administrators and I even bumped into a college classmate of mine who is dropping off her child for her freshman year also. The day went so well my son decided to stay on campus last night. That was tough. But it's a part of growing up --- for him and me.

Update #2:

‪#‎Xavier‬, ‪#‎xula‬, freshman family weekend, I never thought this day would come, not because it couldn't but I just was incapable of understanding what it would look or feel like. I realize that my love and pride for my son runs much deeper than I thought it did. 'nuf said. Gushing over.

Monday, August 19 (3:30am)

I am finally home after a long, long drive from Louisiana. I thought "goodbye" was going to be tearful or maybe even tragic. Goodbye, as in "see you at Thanksgiving, son." But it was business as usual with my newly minted college Freshman. Silly pictures, ridiculous sarcasm and lots of laughs. Sure the emptiness comes and goes in powerful waves. The wondering if I did enough. The hope that I did and the doubt that I didn't. And the emptiness that is in his room in our home. Going into the weekend I was sad. But now I am happy and inspired. Happy for my son and all the opportunity that lies before him and happy to be able to give him as a gift to the world. I am inspired to be all that I can be and even more as a father to him in this new phase of his life.

There was a time when I didn't believe I'd live to see 21 thanks to the people dying around me and now twenty years later I have a son in college. I hope and pray his light shines brighter and longer and better than mine ever will. I am so humbled, so thankful and so filled with praise for the Most High. May His many blessings continue to pour out on all of us trying to raise our kids during such turbulent and high-priced times.

In the subsequent days, all I've had is a smile on my face and a fondness in my heart for the once shoeless boy, the up and coming man I am so so proud to call my son.

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The Picnic: 10 Ways To Create Memories With Family

Disclaimer: I am a member of the SCJohnson Blogger Panel. I received compensation for this post however the opinions expressed here are my own.

Summertime is known as “family-fun time” in my household. From the most frugal of city-planned events to the highest-priced excursions, you’ll rarely come across a weekend where there is nothing to do. Sometimes, however, the easiest way to spend intimate, memorable and quality time as a family is the age-old tradition of a family picnic. It can be as simple or extravagant as your preferences dictate.

My family picnics have always been more spur-of-the-moment outings. My wife and I grab everything we need from the fridge and garage, while stopping at a local grocery store to pick-up necessities we don’t have along the way. We stock our cars with blankets and load-up our Ziploc® brand Big Bags with frisbees, soccer balls and kites for the kids. If you’ve never gone on a family picnic or if you’ve gotten out of practice, below is a list of key necessities you’ll want to bring.

  1. A picnic basket. If you don’t have one, reusable shopping bags are a great alternative
  2. Napkins, plastic plates and disposable cups, forks, knives, spoons and straws. Be sure to recycle these after use, if possible!
  3. Outdoor games such as a soccer ball, football, frisbee, baseball and glove(s), a kite, a couple of bottles of bubbles or some variation of bubble making machines (these cost no more than $6 a pop)
  4. 1-2 blankets designated for outdoor use depending on the size of your family

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When A Man Can Cook: Untruths And A Healthy Stir Fry #Recipe

Last month, I featured this picture on Facebook with a statement directed towards women about a man being a good cook being a man who will take care of you. Well, in retrospect this was a pretty ridiculous claim to make. A man who can cook is most certainly aware of foods, palettes and maybe even chemistry to a certain extent. He may be aware of his surroundings, especially if he is an organic farm to table kind of guy. He might even be conscientious about pleasing, impressing, satisfying, and/or catering to others. But none of the above qualifies what kind of father and husband a man will be. Through the opposite lens, the same goes for women too. A man who can cook is a great asset, no different than one who is handy around the house. But this is a feature, not the total package.